Do You Capitalize Nicknames When Writing? When Should You?


do you capitalize nicknames

Nicknames are now a common option in our writing. They allow us to display familiarity with the receiver when writing. However, while this might sound informal, there is still a need to abide by the right capitalization rules. As such, you are wondering, do you capitalize nicknames when writing? When should you do so?

You should capitalize a nickname when writing. This is because it functions as an alternative to the actual name of the person. As such, you can categorize it as a proper noun. Now, in line with the rules of English, you are expected to capitalize all proper nouns. So, always capitalize nicknames.

However, while this sounds easy, it can get complicated when you consider terms of endearment. You sometimes confuse them with nicknames. However, they are not, and different rules apply. So, dive in to find out all you need to know.

nickname letters in bronze blocks

Do You Capitalize Nicknames?

We are sure no one is in doubt as to what a nickname is. It is now a common usage among everyone today. However, there is still the need to properly write whether you address someone with their nickname or actual names.

Well, that is where it becomes important to understand the right rules of capitalization. So, when should you capitalize nicknames?

The answer is always. If you intend to write in the right way, you need to capitalize nicknames. We bet you are wondering why this is the case.

This is because nicknames function as proper nouns when you use them. For instance, if you were to address a Juliet as Bridge, the word would start to function as a proper noun. As such, it would be impossible not to capitalize it. In such an instance, your failure to capitalize it would mean a reader cannot identify that it is Juliet you are talking about.

grammarly

Now, I could write, “Believe me, Juliet is by far the prettiest girl I have set my eyes upon.” Everyone can easily tell that I mean Juliet, a particular person. Now, if I decide to replace her name with her nickname, I must ensure that others can identify that I mean Juliet.

I could say, “Believe me, bridge is by far the prettiest girl I have set my eyes upon.” In this instance, it is easier for everyone to consider the word bridge as just another bridge. Then, the sentence would struggle to make sense.

However, if I intend to pass my message across, I would employ the use of capitalization. Then, I would state that “Believe me, Bridge is by far the prettiest girl I have set my eyes upon.” In such a case, it is easy for anyone to understand that I do not just mean a bridge, but I mean Bridge, a person.

Do You Capitalize Pet Names?

Now that you are clear on the capitalization of nicknames, our next business order is pet names. These are like nicknames. However, in this case, they are names for your pet, for instance, when you name your dog or cat for personalization.

So, do you capitalize pet names?

Once again, the answer is yes. You should capitalize pet names when you use them in writing. Once again, we bet you are wondering why this is the case.

Well, the reason is not far fetched from why you capitalize nicknames. You capitalize pet names because they function as proper nouns.

You can tell that when you call your dog Rover, you intend it as a proper noun. This is also the case if you decide on Snowball for a cat. In this case, you do not refer to a snowball. Rather you refer to your Snowball, who is a cat.

As such, your usage has the telling of a proper noun. Suppose you can recall our earlier statement. The general rule is that you capitalize all proper nouns regardless of where they appear in a sentence. Well, that is why you always need to capitalize pet names whenever and wherever you use them in a sentence.

Do You Capitalize State Nicknames?

different names in white letters and red background

Again, we have clarified another area that might have left you confused. We will now move to question regarding the capitalization of state nicknames. As you can tell, they are also nicknames. However, in this case, they are nicknames of states rather than a person.

So, should you capitalize the nickname of a state?

Well, the answer is yes. As a rule of English, the capitalization of state nicknames is a must. You might wonder why again. This is thanks to the reality that those nicknames function as a proper noun. Remember that you need to capitalize all proper nouns. So, ensure you do not err when it comes to state nicknames.

You should know that there is no doubt that a state nickname functions as proper nouns. For instance, if you wanted to refer to Hawaii with its nickname, you will merely be replacing Hawaii in the sentence.

Now to replace it with a name other than a proper noun would make the sentence quite redundant in its functioning. For instance, the statement, “I have been to the Aloha State,” automatically depicts that you have been to Hawaii. If you were to replace it with the same words in lowercase, it would mean that you do not intend Hawaii. However, that is what you intended.

So, you see, you cannot avoid capitalizing your state nicknames if you intend to relate the proper meaning to readers.

Alternative Rules 

So far, we have clarified the relevant rules governing the capitalization of nicknames. However, there is one area that requires attention. This is the capitalization of terms of endearment. 

First, you must know that while they sometimes seem similar, they are distinct. When it comes to nicknames, they are a direct replacement for the actual names of individuals. However, when it comes to terms of endearment, they are not direct replacements.

At best, you can classify them as descriptive terms that provide context to the relationship between two individuals. So, in most cases, if not all, they do not take the form of proper nouns.

So, should you capitalize terms of endearment?

The answer is usually no. You should not capitalize terms of endearment. Like you can already tell, they do not act as proper nouns. In the same vein, you cannot use them interchangeably with actual names. So, they do not attract capitalization.

Typically, to identify a term of endearment, all you need to do is determine if you can also use the term when discussing it with another person. If you can, then it might be a nickname that you can capitalize. However, if it is not, then it is a term of endearment that you should not.

For instance, if you are writing to your friends, you would not say, “Do you know honey is coming to the event next week.” Unless, of course, honey is the name of the person you refer to. Even in such a case, you will need to capitalize honey.

So, if you cannot do that, then it is a term of endearment. And you should not capitalize. 

Illustrative Examples 

Now that we have identified all the rules let us help ourselves with some examples for better understanding.

Rule 1: Capitalize Nicknames 

Incorrect 

  1. I look forward to seeing the bridge at the event next year looking all glowing as she always does.
  2. I believe gray should be at this meeting where we decide his fate; at least he can put in some words to help his case.

Correct 

  1. I look forward to seeing Bridge at the event next year looking all glowing as she always does.
  2. I believe Gray should be at this meeting where we decide his fate; at least he can put in some words to help his case.

Rule 2: Capitalize Pet Names 

Incorrect 

  1. I plan on taking clover to the veterinary clinic tomorrow; it has been a while. 
  2. I do not see any reason why northie should be sick from playing outside. 

Correct

  1. I plan on taking Clover to the veterinary clinic tomorrow; it has been a while. 
  2. I do not see any reason why Northie should be sick from playing outside. 

Rule 3: Capitalize State Nicknames

Incorrect 

  1. I plan on visiting the golden state before the end of the year. 
  2. Have you ever been to the grand canyon state?

Correct

  1. I plan on visiting the Golden State before the end of the year. 
  2. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon State?

nickname on the dictionary

Final Thoughts 

There is no reason why you should not be getting the capitalization of nicknames right. Even if there were some reasons before, we have made sure to eliminate it with this article. We have broken the rules into different segments for easy understanding.

So, read up and stay correct when writing.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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